Paris Men’s Fall/Winter 2019 | Day 3

by Long Nguyen

VETEMENTS

I think what Vetements has tried to do since its birth is get a new generation to start thinking differently about fashion, about consumption, about social interactions, and about emotional bonds to clothes. The collective brand always wanted its consumers to think about their relationships to clothes and how they – the collective – can instigate new ways forward. What has been missing in the last decade or so is the complete absence of true conceptual fashion, the kind of cerebral discourse that arises from the clothes and the ambience that a thinker like the designer Martin Margiela created throughout his two decades in the business. That said, Vetements, since its inception in early 2014, has filled this void by questioning the fashion system, by altering what is considered as fashion, and by offering a sort of fashion communion for younger people who can easily identify with the brand’s attitude and products. On the black turtleneck of the opening look, the white words printed on the front read as – ‘Warning: What you are about the see will disturb you.’ 

Among the sleuth of taxidermy giraffes, rhinoceroses, elephants, water buffalos and zebras that populated the main hall of the Museum national d’Histoire naturelle, there was surely a dark element to the show that had models wearing total black face masks and other face coverings along with their square and raised shoulder puffer coats, print sweats, tee-shirts with large slogan lettering that read ‘I have Swine Flu’ or ‘Made in Europe,’ XXL plaid shirts, and even backpacks – the new accessory here – of which animal shapes, furs, and monsters hung from. Several of the models’ heads were completely covered with cloth draped over their faces – the cloth in unison with sweatshirt – and you could see from the dim light projected by their lit phones thatthey were actively surfing the net as they walked around the group of animals in the center of the museum main hall: a grouping the design team termed as ‘anti-social.’ There was something sinister about the fast-paced show seen by their hurried steps as the models could not have been bothered with showing what they were wearing. But as the younger generation is now more than ever active on changing the social and political balance and take greater control over how they live their lives – witness the uprising after the Florida high school shooting as a prime but trite example.  

Faded jeans, turtlenecks, loose black cotton pants, black loose jackets, large white cotton hoodie with elephant print, cargo pants, shredded jeans, print hoodies, large white tee with Interpol print, khaki jackets, and khaki shorts – these are the basic Vetements staples that are given a new lease with a new message that can coalesce the youth around the products. What Vetements really achieves is fomenting a community of like-minded people who can identify with its ethos and products and who truly see and feel themselves with this brand. 


RICK OWENS

If this is even possible to mention, Rick Owens’ fall 2019 show was at the usual Palais de Tokyo, but inside the venue this time was one of the most commercial Owens collections I have witnessed in at least five or six years at the very least. Although many of the garments were much more commercial, every look shown retained the essential and powerful characteristics of the brand that have achieved that zeitgeist of being easily identifiable as signatures specific to the house - namely innovative fabrics, unfettered silhouettes and bizarre and, at times, contorted shapes.  

Rick Owens will soon add a new title as author alongside fashion designer when his book on Larry Legapsi is released next October,  Legapsi was the designer responsible for the rock and roll looks of musicians like the glam style of the band KISS since the 70’s and the futuristic sci-fi looks of the girls group Labelle. Yet the glam rock inspiration was felt softly in the collection with the KISS white painted faces on the models. The discernible lightning bolt shape appeared on several of the nylon vests worn with either partially bleached fuchsia denim creased and very wide leg pants or, in some cases, tighter black pants.  Sharp and wide shoulder jackets and blazers were the master but subtle tailoring elements were strongly present in this collection along with the precise cut of the shape on the wide leg pants. Long, round shoulder coats, some with contrasting pockets in black and red leathers or white cotton, came in shades of orange, charcoal and black. The high heel platform shoes came closest to the actual memory of the glam rock years gleaned from old on-stage photographs of Gene Simmons and added an element of transgression that the designer said had inspired him in his childhood to break barriers.  

The strength of the show proved to be the outerwear, specifically the leathers and shearlings. Owens has an unrivaled talent and a magical touch employing his cutting and draping techniques to all kinds of leathers in his work over the years. In fact, for many seasons the invites to his shows were embossed letterings on different types of hard and thick leathers. A faded orange shearling collarless side zippered cropped coat with dramatic long sleeves, a long collarless A-line flare reverse grey shearling coat and a reverse Mongolian lamb crop coat with part leather sleeve and trims functioned as prime examples of Owens expert hand.  


 DRIES VAN NOTEN

As the models walked along the side of the rectangular Salle Marcel Cerdan in Bercy under a bright white light that focused their steps, the feeling was a complete erasure of the sportswear and particularly the street wear elements infecting designer and luxury fashion houses over the past several years as desperate attempts at reaching the new generation by offering them, well, what they already have but with a stamp of a heritage label. ‘A view on tailoring for the new generation and a step back from nonchalance and sportswear’ was the prevailing trajectory as a model opened the show with simply a white shirt, a black tie, charcoal wool trousers and black leather dress shoes – a sort of palette cleanser to prepare for what’s next. Dries Van Noten has never been much of a designer chasing trends.

And what’s next were different moments from a long lesson in tailoring - a lean four button, double breasted, black wool suit paired with cigarette pants worn shirtless; then a tie-dyed black and white single breasted suit and a large black wool scarf; a series of black and charcoal coats with loose fit wool pants would be followed by jackets, coats and pants in a more relaxed fit. This allowed for the garments to move just as the models walked by to demonstrate their comfort element. The dominant suit shape had a narrow waist, sharp shoulder and wide leg pant. Crisp and sharp outerwear like wool belted pea coats, knee length black coats, trench coats or tie-dyed long coats accompanied the loose pants. A camel cashmere fitted coat paired with a brown leather pants and a vest looked effortlessly elegant. There sure is a deliberate decision by the new company owner, Puig, as the designer sold a majority of his company last June to focus on accessories and expand the business. Thus, many of the models carried an assortment of bags for practically all occasions – totes, weekenders, small business cases, or man purses. Oh, yes and off course the new eyewear. 


YOHJI YAMAMOTO

The clue to the Yohji Yamamoto show came about midway when each of the models formed a procession one after another wearing military inspired uniforms, many altered with very large gold buttoning in an asymmetrical lineup along the lapel to the shoulder line or with an uneven matchup of buttons to buttonholes as the song ‘Amazing Grace’ played over the loudspeakers, with the music providing a martial and formal feel. It was like seeing something that is associated with order and structure succumb to the process of coming undone. Is that a reflection of current social political situations in the U.S. or perhaps the rising fascism and nativism in Western Europe? Mussolini is in vogue again in Italy and sentiments for Francisco Franco are on the uptrend in Spain with uproars about the Socialist government plans to move his tomb to a Madrid cathedral from a monument the dictator built practically for himself. 

All in deep navy blue wool and felt wool represented an essence of Yamamoto’s work where the designer crafted complicated and structured clothes out of simple fabrics where in his hands they were draped, cut and experimented in the old ways using traditional clothes making techniques. Sumptuous coats, Yohji’s signature, came in double breasted with white threads hanging from aside as if forcefully torn or worn out with frequent usage, while certain coats had gold coins and buttons in shapes of lions and eagles attached. Others had subtle prints embedded on the surface of the wool fabric. The jacket silhouette tended to be on the longer side while long pants were tucked into high black leather boots. And those white threads hanging loose seemed at times to be floating in the air providing a sense of poetry since they nearly composed an image or some letterings but never finished to the point of discerning whether they might construct a picture or a series of words.


Casablanca

Casablanca F/W 2019

Casablanca F/W 2019

A new line from Charaf Tajer debuted its runway show at the river front Bismarck center to a highly aroused crowd of urban fans unlike at any other shows so far in Paris that was to become North Africa’s first luxury clothing brand. Like the name of the brand, the collection featured an array of print clouds with stars and ancient columns or crustacean shirts worn with denim, wool pants or terry track pants, double breasted dark tan and dark navy suits, black sweaters with orange prints, fancy print knits over patchwork jeans or light pink fruit crew neck sweaters over black slim pants. All the colors and prints made for a cheerful fall-winter collection full of bright summer beach vibes and youthful charisma and charm, anchoring a good base for a start. If the diverse crowd applause was any indication, Casablanca will surely have a firm footing in the coming seasons.